Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili

Article written and reviewed by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH
Published October 26, 2022

This comforting and easy-to-make stew features pumpkin chunks, two types of beans, and a variety of healthy fall vegetables.

Enjoy A Hearty Fall Feast Full of Pumpkin

Pumpkins are a popular vegetable to incorporate for Thanksgiving dinner and are fun to carve on Halloween. Pumpkins are also tasty and nutritious. Both the seeds and the flesh can be used in many interesting dishes. All good reasons to remember to eat pumpkin the rest of the fall and winter.

For those on a plant-based diet, a stew featuring a variety of nutrient-dense beans is an easy recipe to whip up when the temperatures dip into sweater weather.

Perk Up with Pumpkin

Rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, pumpkin is incredibly healthy. What's more, its low calorie content makes it a weight-loss-friendly food. Its nutrients and antioxidants may boost your immune system, protect your eyesight, lower your risk of certain cancers and promote heart and skin health.

Raw pumpkin has only 15 calories per 1/2 cup, and is full of iron, zinc, and fiber. It's high in vitamin C and beta carotene. Pumpkins are also high in lutein and zeaxanthin, substances that may help prevent the formation of cataracts and reduce the risk of macular degeneration.

When someone says potassium, a banana may spring to mind, but surprisingly pumpkins are the real potassium pros with one cup containing 14% of your daily intake compared to 12% in a banana. So, next time you need some oomph, pumpkin could be the answer. (Taking a pumpkin to the gym for a mid-workout snack might get some funny looks though!)

Pumpkin is Good for Your Gut


Pumpkins are a fantastic source of fiber. That means they make you feel full without adding to your overall food intake for the day. If you’re looking for a healthy way to fill up, nutrient-rich pumpkin is a good go-to choice. Fiber acts as a prebiotic, which means it supports the good bacteria in your gut by helping them multiply. Good bacteria can help you with digestion and keep harmful bacteria in check.

Pumpkin also provides iron which supports good bacteria in the gut, vitamin C which aids the absorption of this iron, magnesium which reduces inflammation in the gut and several B vitamins which support the efficient function of the stomach and intestines. What’s more, pumpkin seeds are nutritious and provide a range of health benefits.

Just like their orange cousins, the carrot and the sweet potato, pumpkins are rich in beta carotene. Your body changes this antioxidant to vitamin A. You need vitamin A to see, ward off germs, and for your reproductive system to work the way it should. It also helps your heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs stay healthy.

Why are Beans So Nutritious?

Kidney beans are an excellent plant-based source of protein. They're also rich in various minerals, vitamins, fibers, antioxidants, and other unique plant compounds. Therefore, these beans may aid weight loss, promote colon health, and moderate blood glucose levels.

Kidney beans are mainly composed of carbohydrates and fiber but also serve as a good source of protein. Only 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of boiled kidney beans boast almost 9 grams of protein, accounting for 27% of the total calorie content.

Kidney beans are rich in various vitamins and minerals, including:

  • Molybdenum. Beans are high in molybdenum, a trace element mainly found in seeds, grains, and legumes.

  • Folate. Also known as folic acid or vitamin B9, folate is considered particularly important during pregnancy.

  • Iron. This essential mineral has many important functions in your body. Iron may be poorly absorbed from beans due to their phytate content.

  • Copper. This antioxidant trace element is often low in the Western diet. Aside from beans, the best dietary sources of copper are organ meats, seafood, and nuts.

  • Manganese. This compound is present in most foods, especially in whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.

  • Potassium. This essential nutrient may have beneficial effects on heart health.

  • Vitamin K1. Also known as phylloquinone, vitamin K1 is important for blood coagulation.

Beans are also considered a “superfood” because they are one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. As a result of their high fiber content, beans help protect against diabetes, cardiovascular disease and maybe even some cancers.

Buying Tips

Look for pumpkins with firm and smooth orange skin and that feel heavy for their size. Avoid pumpkins with cracks and bruises. Also, pick a pumpkin that has its “handle,” or stem, intact.

Whole pumpkins can be kept in a cool, dry place for several months. Once you cut up your fresh pumpkin, store it in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic and use it within 5 days. Cooked pumpkin can be frozen for up to 10 months.

When shopping for beans, you have two options: dried beans versus canned. If you're looking to save money, dried beans are almost always cheaper than canned because one bag will last longer than a single can.

Canned beans are pre-cooked and stored in water, while dried beans are dehydrated and pre-cooked and therefore, they weigh less. After soaking or boiling your dried beans in water, they will weigh more, so in the end, you will get more from the bag of dried beans than a single can of beans.

Nutrition-wise, canned and cooked beans are relatively comparable, as dehydrated and cooked beans contain the same amount of protein, fat content, and mostly the same ingredients.

However, you should be wary while buying canned beans, as sometimes, they're stored in incredibly salty water, so be sure to read the ingredient list before grabbing that can. You can also rinse your beans, and doing so can cut the sodium content in half.

Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili

Beverly Verwey
This comforting and easy-to-make stew features pumpkin chunks, two types of beans, and a variety of healthy fall vegetables.
Course Dinner, Lunch
Servings 4
Calories 445 kcal


  • 3 cups fresh pumpkin chopped
  • 19 oz can red kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 19 oz can white kidney beans (cannellini beans) drained and rinsed
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 pepperoncini pepper seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots chopped
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp ginger minced
  • 2 cupos frozen corn
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin


  • Sauté onion, garlic, ginger and pepperoncini pepper in a small amount of water or vegetable broth for 3 minutes or until onions are softened.
  • Add carrots and pumpkin chunks and sauté for 3 minutes and then add beans, corn, and tomatoes. Heat to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
  • Add smoked paprika, chili powder, and cumin.
  • Allow the stew to simmer for at least 20 minutes.
  • Serve


Calories: 445kcalCarbohydrates: 59gProtein: 22.9gFat: 3.2gSodium: 341.76mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

About the author 

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD, and Robby Barbaro, MPH are the coauthors of the New York Times bestselling book Mastering Diabetes: The Revolutionary Method to Reverse Insulin Resistance Permanently in Type 1, Type 1.5, Type 2, Prediabetes, and Gestational Diabetes. They are the cofounders of Mastering Diabetes, a coaching platform that teaches people how to reverse insulin resistance via low-fat, plant-based, whole-food nutrition. Cyrus has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2002, and has an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from UC Berkeley. Robby was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2000, and has been living a plant-based lifestyle since 2006. He worked at Forks Over Knives for 6 years, and earned a Master’s in Public Health in 2019.